Received a copy of The Novel World of Angela Crown by Sala Deib through the First Reads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review
The happiest day of one's life quickly becomes one's worst as our lead protagonist Angela Crown is notified by two police officers that her father John and beloved fiancé Mark were shot and killed in a bank robbery gone wrong. Angela's initial response was despondency which developed into a deep depression, forcing her to spend a week in a West Vancouver hospital. With no signs of improvement her sister wants her discharged and sent home, hoping that familiarity will revive her senses and awaken her spirit. This isn't the first time Angela has had to deal with tragedy. When Angela was seven-years-old she had to deal with the death of her mother when she was unexpectedly shot and killed in a home invasion. She didn't really know her father John as he was rarely home due to his work for the United Nations leaving Angela and her mother to fend for themselves the majority of the time. Angela's sister Maggie is eleven years her senior and was away at school at the time of her mother's death. When her mother died, Angela became very close to her father. From that point Angela hated being alone and started demonstrating signs of difficulty coping with the death of her mother and going through the grieving process.
As time went on and wounds scarred over, Angela enrolled in university and became a rising star in The institution's literature program. She was recognized as one of the best students that an esteemed, as well as experienced professor has ever seen during his tenure. A once in a career type talent was how she was described. She eventually graduated with a Masters Degree in English Literature and a Degree in Philosophy. She met her fiancé and poet Mark Moody in a class for literary talents and from the first verse he recited she knew he was the one for her. All her hopes and dreams came to a crashing halt when the happiest day of her life became the worst.
"Alone, Angela moved around the table, staring at the book before picking it up and pressing it against her chest. The book became the epicentre of her old passion for novels, stirring emotions she didn't understand and leaving her in utter confusion. She shook as she sat on the sofa. Firmly embracing the book, she closed her eyes and fell asleep."
Initial consultation with a psychiatrist reveals an initial state of shock that develops into an obvious withdrawal from surroundings and delusions when mentally aware. A revisiting of one's passion is encouraged as a pseudo-prescription for what currently ails Angela. The wonderful world of novels are a welcomed distraction from traumatic past events as she dives right in to the literary playground that she once enjoyed practicing herself. However; she notices that something has changed. The novels she once enjoyed have started to draw a personal ire and raise an eyebrow. Novels involving the misery, tragedy, and despair of characters from grave injustices has given her a mission and a clear focus for her next phase in her personal "rehabilitation." As she embraces her new role as a "professional reader" she slowly blurs the lines between reality and fiction leading to an eventual point of no return where everything seems real and her memory of personal history is gone. She finds herself living between the lines of the author's story doing her best to rewrite the plot, change the course of the future and save the characters from their tragic fate. Because Angela won't let what happened to her father John and fiancé Mark happen to anyone else, especially defenseless novel characters. While she starts living the lives of others fulfilling her own civic goals through their lives, her own story starts gathering dust on the top shelf, broken binding and all.
"In Magier's world oppressors are praised and victims are condemned. To him, you and your world are fictional, lines of thoughts, a word and the stroke of a pen. The destructive power of fear has long controlled the lives on the island, causing hearts to tremble and providing solid foundations for corruption to grow. Don't submit to the authority of fear and don't be complicit in its influence on others. Let's conquer fear within us and help others defeat it within themselves. Let's start a battle for change, now."
The author utilizes a very intriguing, albeit ambitious concept and the execution doesn't fail to deliver. The idea of a battle between the novel world vs. the real world and a character losing themselves between both worlds heightened my anticipation and excitement to see where the author would take me next. For the most part I enjoyed the story, the battle of ideals between the Freedom Seekers "Live in liberty or die with dignity" and the Plot Thickener's "Live by the script and die for the plot" was very enjoyable. You also must respect and appreciate the author's efforts as he traveled great lengths to tie all the loose ends he created and for simply taking on a story with such complexities and subtleties. At some points the story became a little hard to believe, but you can never doubt the lengths a person will go in the fight or flight response towards tragedies and the indelible power of the mind.
"To her, there is no difference between reality and fiction; her world is a novel just like the ones she reads. She is disconnected from her 'oppressive' past existence and associated with 'similarly oppressive' worlds of novels, in which she is no longer a passive victim but an active agent who could make a difference. In my view, Angela Crown no longer represents any danger to Bruce Darling; however, she sees events around her with a distorting lens and therefore treatment to connect her to reality is still needed."